Man in mask reading under COVID-19 lockdown

Lockdown reading

Discovering how people’s reading habits are changing in the face of COVID-19

We're researching people's reading habits and practices throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen.

What we're doing

While lockdown is an exceptional phenomenon – and therefore valuable for what it can tell us about radically new future scenarios – it will also offer a deeper understanding of the relationship between reading and time use that is otherwise hard to track. We’ll examine quantitative data from the UK and Denmark (print and online book sales, publisher communications, the number of COVID-19 reading groups collectives set up) and qualitative analysis of people’s reading habits and experiences during the pandemic. We’ll interview publishers, members of literary organisations and culture departments, and, importantly, general readers and reading group members.


We're interested to see for those who have taken up reading novels, how are they reading – in short bursts or for long periods, alone or as part of a virtual collective – and how the slow unfolding of time often associated with novel reading intersects with the feeling of time during lockdown.

Dr Ben Davies, Researcher

Given the importance of time to reading attitudes and habits, the reduced access to workplaces during lockdown will allow us to examine reading novels as an activity correlated in complex ways to work. 

The project will offer initial research findings on the benefits and experiences, as well as the difficulties, of reading during lockdown, and it will offer foundations for wider studies in the future. The project has received research funding from the Carlsberg Foundation.

Recent talks

English: Shared Futures – Caring for our Discipline During COVID (Friday 30 April 2021)

Ben Davies (University of Portsmouth) and Christina Lupton (University of Copenhagen), 'Corona Time: Reading During the Pandemic.'


Workshop in the History of Material Texts (Monday 27 September 2021)

Christina Lupton (University of Copenhagen) and Ben Davies (University of Portsmouth), 'Corona Time: Reading Fiction During the Covid-19 Pandemic.'


Reading Novels During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Ben Davies, Christina Lupton, and Johanne Gormsen Schmidt

Cover of the academic book 'Reading Novels During the Covid-19 Pandemic'


  • Ben Davies (University of Portsmouth)
  • Amanda Grimsbo Roswall (University of Copenhagen)
  • Christina Lupton (University of Copenhagen)
  • Johanne Gormsen Schmidt (University of Copenhagen)

in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen